Commentary, News, Trump Administration

Report: GOP war on immigrants doing the intended damage

Reporter H. Claire Brown at the New Food Economy has a troubling, but unsurprising story about the damage that the combination of Trump rhetoric and threats of new restrictive new Republican policies on immigration and assistance to people in need are wreaking with low-income immigrant families.

This is from “Immigrant food stamp use plummeted after Trump took office, new research shows”:

Preliminary data from a survey of more than 35,000 mothers of young children indicate a nearly 10 percent drop in SNAP enrollment among immigrant families who are eligible.

The findings, presented Monday at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting, found that immigrant mothers’ participation in SNAP steadily increased from 2007 to 2017. Then, in the first half of 2018, the numbers suddenly dropped—by a lot. In 2017, 43 percent of eligible families who had been in the country for less than five years were participating in the program. By mid-2018, that figure had plummeted to 34.8 percent.

Allison Bovell-Ammon, lead researcher for the study and deputy director of policy strategy at Boston Medical Center’s Children’s HealthWatch, emphasized that SNAP eligibility rules didn’t change between 2017 and 2018, so the drop is likely due to families’ fear of potential repercussions for receiving food aid. “These findings demonstrate that rhetoric and the threat of policy changes, even before changes are enacted, may be causing families to forego nutrition assistance,” she said in a press release.

In April, Harvest Public Media reported that anti-hunger advocates had begun sharing anecdotal evidence that immigrants were dropping out of SNAP over fear of deportation. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for the program, but if they have dependents who were born in the U.S., their children can receive food stamps. Though an early leaked version of the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule hinted that dependents’ SNAP use would be considered in determining a family’s immigration status, the final published rule indicated that only adults’ SNAP participation would be factored in.

As the year wore on, further indications that the current political climate might be affecting immigrant use of food benefits began to trickle in. Politico reported in September that agencies in 18 states have seen as much as a 20 percent drop in enrollment for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides food assistance to new mothers. Food banks also reported their clients’ confusion and concern about registering for SNAP use….

On Monday, conservative news outlet Breitbart reported what it surely considered to be Trump-related good news—not related, certainly, to the recent spate of work requirements: Nationwide SNAP enrollment is at its lowest in nearly a decade. More than 3 million people have left the program since the president’s first full month in office. Meanwhile, according to the Boston Medical Center research, food insecurity among immigrant families who have been in the country for less than five years has risen from 9.9 percent in 2007 to 17.8 percent today.

Click here to read the entire story.

Environment, Trump Administration

North Carolina’s environmental boss, EPA Region 4 administrator Trey Glenn indicted in Alabama

EPA Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn, center, at an information and listening session about emerging compounds like GenX, held in Fayetteville earlier this year. Left is DEQ Secretary Michael Regan and right is Peter Grevatt of the EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water. (File photo: Lisa Sorg)

This past summer, Trey Glenn, the EPA administrator over Region 4, which includes North Carolina, visited Fayetteville for a listening session on GenX and other emerging contaminants. “It’s a great time to be an American. It’s a great time to work at the EPA,” Glenn said in his tone-deaf opening remarks.

It’s uncertain how long Glenn’s great time at the agency will last. This week an Alabama grand jury indicted Glenn — a Trump administration appointee — on state ethics charges. The allegations stem from his previous work with a law firm that helped a coal company block an EPA cleanup of contamination in a low-income Black neighborhood in north Birmingham. The company, Drummond, was among the parties responsible for the pollution.

Al.com, a paper of record in Alabama, has an excellent story with extensive background on Glenn’s misdeeds. A Mother Jones piece also contains juicy details.

Al.com reported that Glenn and former Alabama Environmental Commissioner Scott Phillips worked in tandem to derail the polluted communities’ efforts to compel the coal company to clean up the contramination.

From Al.com:

From 2014 through 2017, Glenn and Phillips worked with those defendants [the coal company] to oppose the EPA efforts, court exhibits and trial testimony showed. One exhibit in that trial showed that Phillips proposed to “hijack” a north Birmingham community organization that had been working with the EPA to clean up neighborhoods there. During his testimony, Phillips said that by “hijack” he meant “work with.”

Among Glenn’s previous scandals: his financial involvement with Big Sky Environmental, responsible for the so-called “poop train.”

Again from Al.com:

Big Sky Environmental made headlines this year after it accepted human feces from New York for disposal at its Adamsville landfill. A train that delivered that refuse stunk up the surrounding community and after national news coverage became known as the “poop train.”

Mother Jones reported that the EPA didn’t respond to requests for comment about Glenn’s future at the agency. The great times, though, could soon be over.

Commentary, News, Trump Administration

After attempted bombings, President Trump attacks the media once again

President Donald Trump (Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

One day after authorities announced that they’d intercepted a series of suspicious, and possibly explosive, packages mailed to prominent Democrats and members of the media, President Donald Trump has returned to his regularly scheduled programming.

From CNN:

President Donald Trump returned on Thursday to blaming the media for much of the “anger” in society, a day after CNN and Democrats were the targets of explosive devices.

“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” Trump tweeted. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description.”
“Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!” he continued.
Although the President has often derided the media as “fake news,” even labeling reporters the “enemy of the people,” Thursday’s tweet is especially striking in the wake of potential attacks on a major media outlet and political figures who have criticized him.
Former CIA Director John Brennan, who was an intended recipient of one of the packages, responded to Trump’s tweet, telling the President to “stop blaming others” and “look in the mirror.”
Trump’s attacks came just hours after he seemed to strike a moderately more reflective tone, urging partisan opponents to decry “political violence.”
From Politico:

President Donald Trump once suggested that “Second Amendment people” could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton won the election and stacked the courts with anti-gun judges.

In 2016, he encouraged the roughing-up of protesters at his campaign rallies. Last year, Trump tweeted a video of himself tackling a man with a CNN logo superimposed across his face, adding the hashtag #FraudNewsCNN. And just last week, he made light of a Republican congressman who was convicted of assault for body-slamming a reporter.

Amid disturbing reports that explosive devices were sent to some of the president’s top political enemies by one or more unknown persons, Trump’s critics say he has a reckless penchant for, at a minimum, celebrating violence against his enemies — and, at worst, inciting it.

But the president embraced a very different message on Wednesday, decrying “political violence” and presenting himself as a bipartisan healer during remarks at the White House, touching off an unexpected national debate about political discourse that itself quickly grew divisive, with left and right each accusing the other of bad faith.

“Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective,” a staid Trump said Wednesday night at the start of a rally in Wisconsin, adding later, “By the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving today? Have you ever seen this?”

Trump’s solemn remarks were a jarring contrast with his typical raucous political rallies, where he regularly whips his supporters into a frenzy by mocking his critics and political opponents.

In Trump’s world, Clinton should be imprisoned, Obama “founded” ISIS, CNN is “fake news,” billionaire George Soros is funding liberal protesters and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who called on activists to confront administration officials, should “be careful what you wish for.”

Trump’s latest about-face is newsworthy in that it marks just the latest attack on figures in the media, a prime target of the president’s since his rise with extreme right voters.

Following a newsroom shooting in Maryland this summer, the president waited a matters of days before unleashing more broadsides, pointing to reporters at a Montana rally and denouncing them as “bad people.”

And while it’s not fair to blame the president and his supporters for all such attacks, Trump should understand his role in the matter. He is an influencer, for better or worse.

Violence should be condemned in the strongest terms, but our president somehow finds extenuating circumstances when it comes to attacks on the media.

Trump should know better, and he does.

Defending Democracy, News, Trump Administration

The real human cost of transgender lives as political fodder

As the North Carolina State Health Plan once again excludes transgender treatment and the Trump administration moves forward with attempts to erase federal recognition of transgender identity, it’s worth your time to look at a study published last month on transgender adolescent suicidal behavior in the journal Pediatrics.

One of the study’s most jarring results:

Nearly 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt; disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts were found. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%), male to female adolescents (29.9%), questioning adolescents (27.9%), female adolescents (17.6%), and male adolescents (9.8%). Identifying as nonheterosexual exacerbated the risk for all adolescents except for those who did not exclusively identify as male or female (ie, nonbinary). For transgender adolescents, no other sociodemographic characteristic was associated with suicide attempts.

Policy Watch has reported extensively on the reliance of conservative groups and politicians on politically motivated “experts” and pseudo-science for their views on transgender issues. We’ve also spoken to real expert physicians in North Carolina who actually have extensive experience treating transgender patients.

As we continue to report on this issue, it is worth remembering, as this study shows, the real human costs.

Commentary, News, Trump Administration

Kavanaugh update: Trump acts like fool; editorials blast NC GOP leader, call on Tillis and Burr to act

The toxic and destructive presidency of Donald Trump continues. Yesterday, the President of the United States once again behaved like a complete nincompoop at a rally in Mississippi by mocking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, one of the accusers of his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. As AP reported, Trump actually even stooped to attempting to imitate Ford in an offensive and below-the-belt performance that Ford’s lawyer Michael Bromwich accurately described as “vicious, vile and soulless.” This is from the AP story:

“Is it any wonder that she was terrified to come forward, and that other sexual assault survivors are as well?” Bromwich tweeted. “She is a remarkable profile in courage. He is a profile in cowardice.”

Meanwhile, here in North Carolina, two major new outlets blasted prominent Tar Heel Republicans for their performances in the Kavanaugh saga.

The lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer skewered GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse for his outrageous attacks on a Kavanaugh accuser. In “In North Carolina, the embodiment of why women stay silent about sexual assault,” the Observer put it this way:

The head of the North Carolina Republican Party calls one of Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers “a criminal” who “should go to prison.” And we wonder why women are hesitant to report sexual assault?

Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina GOP, said of Julie Swetnick’s claims: “These things not only did not happen, they are impossible. So she needs to be prosecuted…”

How many women decide to remain in hiding when they hear comments like that? Republicans, from President Trump on down, have questioned why Kavanaugh’s accusers stayed quiet about the Supreme Court nominee for so long. But with his tweets about Swetnick on Sunday, Woodhouse himself becomes the living embodiment of why a woman might keep her secret hell to herself.

Finally, this morning’s lead editorial on WRAL.com (“Burr and Tillis, tell Trump to find new Supreme Court nominee”) explains why Kavanaugh’s juvenile behavior last week ought to be sufficient grounds to reject his nomination:

The scrutiny that Kavanaugh’s faced in his confirmation has been intense. But that’s just the way things are and given his experience – as a lawyer working with Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton, working in the White House and as a federal judge – shouldn’t have been a surprise or anything he’d be unprepared for.

When that scrutiny reached its height and put him to the test, Kavanaugh failed to exhibit the kind of behavior appropriate of a justice on the highest court in the land. Read more